says a study released today in the Los Angeles Times.
I'm a big proponent of breastfeeding, but I do want to mention I am not anti-formula. I realize it's a personal decision and for some women, it's not possible physically or emotionally. I do, however, think it's not given a fair shot with too many women. They "try" for too short a time, giving up too easily. And let's face it, formula feeding ~is~ easier in the long run. Although breastfeeding doesn't consist of making and cleaning bottles, the time investment of long term breastfeeding ~is~ quite difficult. Adding that to the millions of women who qualify for WIC who simply get their formula for free and you are going to see more women opt for formula than breastfeeding. My opinions of course.
Also, I think many women will say they physically could ~not~ do it when that's not, in fact, true. Before anyone with a true physical issue gets angry with me, I definitely do know of many, many, many reasons why some women can't breastfeed. But I think the number of women who say they ~couldn't~ is exaggerated. Think about the time when the options were to breastfeed or let the child die of starvation. Yeah, a lot more women had the ability then. Since the options to not breastfeed are so plentiful now, there are more to claim they can't.
Breastfeeding my first was HARD. My milk didn't let-down until day 6! And even then, I wasn't making too much milk. I was practically starving my little Ella for her first week. She lots weight and the doctor said I was going to have to supplement if the milk didn't come in within the next 24 hours. But it did. And during those first few weeks, my nipples cracked and bleed. Latching on was horrifically painful. I thought about giving up, but I kept at it. I successfully breastfed for an entire year, even when I was pregnant for the last 6 months. When Allison was born, I knew what I was in for. My milk took a long time to come in again, so this time, I supplemented with formula after each feeding. Once I was making enough of the liquid gold, it was breastmilk only again for a full year.
This study of 14,000 children has shown increased breastfeeding in the first few months of life appears to raise a child's verbal IQ. By the time these children were 6 years old, the breastfed children had a verbal IQ 7.5 higher than the non breastfed children. The findings also suggest the longer and infant is fed breastmilk exclusively, the greater the IQ improvement. Besides the improvement in IQ scores, the breastfed children scored an average of 5 points higher on tests specifically measuring vocabulary.
Dr Michael Kramer of McGill University of Montreal, said "the IQ improvements were modest and might not be noticeable on an individual basis, but the increase could have a significant effect on society as a whole." Which isn't bad - I wouldn't mind if society increased their IQ by 7.5 points!
As always, I take this study with a grain of salt. It only studied 14,000 children and as far as I could tell in the article, their hadn't been any other studies measuring the same thing. All I am acknowledging is that this is something potentially good. Another reason a mother may choose to breastfeed when she was on the fence about which way to go.